Midnight Cowboy [1969]

One of the all time greats. Dark, disturbing dramatization of James Leo Herlihy’s novel was rated X in 1969, but it’s essentially an old fashioned story with a modern twist. John Voight is terrific in his starring debut as Joe Buck, a young and handsome man (who dresses as a cowboy) who moves from Texas to New York thinking he’ll make a living by being a stud. Women however do not seem to be willing to pay money for his services, and soon enough, Joe faces the fact that he must live in poverty, as his supply of money begins to dry up. From this moment on, this is primarily a story of Joe’s realization of the harsh realities of the real world. During his stay, he meets Enrico Rizzo (an amazing Dustin Hoffman), a crippled swindler who initially tries to con Joe out of his money. When they both realise that they are in the same unpleasant situation, Ratso offers Joe a place to stay, and working together, they attempt to make lives for themselves in the cold and harsh city of New York.

Shot largely in the streets of the big apple, “Midnight Cowboy” is a powerful and realistic look at life in the slums. Watching the film, one can instantly sympathise with the two characters. You can feel yourself inside Ratso’s unheated appartment, freezing from the aching winter cold. The acting is more than terrific, with both Voight and Hoffman masterfully portaying their roles. Hoffman in particular was exceptional, but they were both nominated for best actor Oscars, though both eventually lost out to John Wayne in “True Grit”. “Midnight Cowboy” still managed to win three Oscars from seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (John Schlesinger really did an amazing job here) and Best Writing for Waldo Salt. If anything, the movie looks better today than it did at the time of its release. But either way, It’s still a fascinating experience, and a must see for every film buff out there. Great stuff.

Rating: 3.5/4

Categories: MUST-SEES, The 60's

3 replies »

  1. I love this movie. I remember how disturbing it was especially with the scenes when he takes drugs. I like how the naivety of his character was captured. Very sad movie though.

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